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Cholesterol

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Cholesterol is another risk factor which is strongly associated with cardiovascular disease.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid. It is mostly made by the liver from the fatty foods we eat and is vital for the normal functioning of the body. Having an excessively high level of lipids in your blood (hyperlipidemia) can have a serious effect on your health as it increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.  The government recommends that cholesterol levels should be less than 5mmol/L. In the UK, two out of three adults have a total cholesterol level of 5mmol/L or above. On average, men in England have a cholesterol level of 5.5mmol/L and women have a level of 5.6mmol/L. The UK population has one of the highest average cholesterol concentrations in the world.

Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol levels can cause narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attack and stroke. This is because cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the flow of blood to your heart, brain and the rest of your body. It also increases the chance of a blood clot developing. Your risk of coronary heart disease (when your heart's blood supply is blocked or disrupted) rises as your blood's cholesterol level increases. Other factors, such as high blood pressure and smoking, increase this risk even more